Without actually going on a tremendous journey around the world, what people eat for breakfast around the world is a bit of a guess – and in international hotels cereals, toast, scrambled eggs reign supreme. Indeed, in my trawl for information, it became depressingly apparent that the easy breakfast of cereals or jam on toast is gaining an increasing hold, radiating out from the Western world. Grab a piece of toast, gulp down a cup of tea and get on with the day. In Italy, I have on good authority, increasingly it is just a cup of ristretto espresso coffee and a cigarette. Served from a bar,a ristretto espresso is ‘like a bomb for your stomach’ according to my friend, Paolo. I should imagine it can be like a bomb for lower down too.
What I found interesting is the number of countries that eat eggs as part of their breakfast; Turkey, Poland, Egypt, Russia and even Japan to name a few. Cheese forms another regular part of breakfasts. In oriental countries such as Thailand and Malaysia breakfast can be similar to the other main meals of the day. So here is a snapshot of some of the more unusual breakfasts of the world in no particular order.
Here we have some Syrniki – fried quark pancakes served here with jam, but it could also be honey, sour cream or apple sauce. The ingredients of the basic pancake are quark – a fresh cheese made from soured cream – flour, eggs, sugar. The pancakes are fried in vegetable oil, so become crisp on the outside and soft and creamy inside.
The Turks like menemem for breakfast. To make this, fry up some onions, then add green peppers, tomatoes, some herbs such as oregano and mint, then add eggs and scramble them. They also eat black olives, feta cheese, sliced tomatoes, eggs, bread and drink tea.
Meat features largely in Mongolian cuisine, and for breakfast apparently boiled mutton with lots of fat and flour is common. The Kazakh’s eat horse meat instead of lamb.
The Eritreans like to eat the wonderful sounding Kitcha fit-fit for breakfast. This is shredded, oiled and spiced bread, often a scoop of fresh yoghurt sprinkled with berbere -chilli,garlic,ginger,basil,rue,fenugreek and black pepper.
The Japanese are known for their longevity, and when we look at the sorts of things they eat for breakfast, part of the reason why becomes clear. Japanese meals usually revolve around a bowl of steamed white rice, and so at breakfast the rice is accompanied by a bowl of miso soup, pickles, a piece of grilled fish and washed down with green tea. Often breakfast comes with a raw egg which is beaten and poured over the hot rice, this golden rice then wrapped in a sheet of dried seaweed, called nori, then eaten. The reason why this breakfast is healthy is the fish provides protein, the miso soup is good for digestive health, miso paste is a rich source of probiotics, pickles lower the GI of the food and are also good for digestion. If the miso soup has solid ingredients, these vary according to the season, something that we seem to have lost touch with in the Western world. Seaweed contains iodine and trace minerals. Green tea lowers stress levels and improves brain function. However, although there is no wheat or dairy, in the orient, people do develop an intolerance to rice because of the huge amount of it they eat.
But it seems that in Japan, here too, during the working week, the standard Western breakfast of cereals is gaining an increasing foothold.